The Cave at Quartz Mountain
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The Cave at Quartz Mountain

In Memory of Bill Stafford

Opened its one dark eyebeneath a ridge of smooth boulders,old stones friendly to the touch,holding sun’s warmth through the night.

Under dry needled cedars, ripe currents.One bush, arched like an eyebrow, hungwhere a child might climb, dangleone foot swinging as she picked the fruit.

In the midden corner, among chips of obsidian,dark charcoal and glistening buffalo bone,a Kiowa girl was unearthed by an archaeologist,who recorded around her wrist a single bracelet.

And though, after eighty years in a museum,her remains were finally returned to her people,that bright beaded armlet was never found.

As I sat there that day, thinking of her,resting away from the dazzle of sun,a rustle of leaves, then a small ring-necked snakeout from under a stone, glistening red and black,crawling over my arm. . and all around me was gone

lost with the smoke of our cooking fires,the basket in which I placed the ripe berries,yapping of camp dogs quarreling for scraps,boys splashing in the river below our tall lodges…

this bracelet of memory cool on my wrist. [End Page 74]

Joseph Bruchac

Abenaki writer, storyteller, editor, and publisher Joseph Bruchac was one of the primary organizers of the first RETURNING THE GIFT gathering in 1992. Founder of the Greenfield Review Press, his own stories and poems have appeared in hundreds of publications over the last five decades.

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